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In the crosshairs A new Russian operation threatens a significant part of Ukraine’s Donbas

Source: Meduza

Like our earlier reports on the combat situation in Ukraine, this article takes stock of the recent developments on the battlefield based on open-source information. Meduza has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the very start, and our detailed military analyses are part of our commitment to objective reporting on a war we firmly oppose.

Our map is based exclusively on open-source photos and videos, most of them posted by eyewitnesses on social media. We collect available evidence and determine its geolocation markers, adding only the photos and videos that clear this process. Meduza doesn’t try to track the conflict in real time; the data reflected on the map are typically at least 48 hours old.

Key updates as of July 3, 2024

The Russian army has launched a new operation near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. A large contingent of forces previously engaged on the neighboring Avdiivka front has begun an offensive on the city of Toretsk and its numerous satellite settlements. This operation seems to be part of a larger plan to encircle the Toretsk urban area by breaking through from the north via Chasiv Yar (near Bakhmut) and from the south via Ocheretyne (near Avdiivka), with the aim of pushing the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) out of this large section of the Donbas region. An assault directly on Toretsk from the east would compel the Ukrainian command to transfer reserves to the city, thereby weakening the defense on the flanks of this fortified area. The seizure of Avdiivka this winter was executed in exactly the same way.

However, this new Russian operation is significantly larger than the one on Avdiivka and poses a greater threat. Meanwhile, the AFU has yet to respond to this danger, focusing instead on trying to seize the initiative in other areas — near Kharkiv and in the forests near Kreminna.

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It’s unclear how much progress Russia has made near Toretsk over the past week. Some videos suggest that Russian troops advancing from Horlivka have breached AFU defense lines in the villages of Pivnichne and Druzhba (northwest of Toretsk) by three to five kilometers (about two to three miles). The offensive is being carried out along the Horlivka–Kostiantynivka railway. Both Russian and Ukrainian sources claim that during the assault, the Russian army used a multi-kilometer tunnel to get behind Ukrainian lines. (This tunnel was dug by the same Russian units that constructed one on the southern outskirts of Avdiivka this winter.)

Southeast of Toretsk, in the village of Pivdenne, Ukrainian sources report that Russian forces have also advanced several kilometers into Ukrainian defenses. Additionally, Russian troops have begun an offensive on the settlement of Niu-York, northwest of the city. So far, there hasn’t been any visual confirmation of these breakthroughs.

Chasiv Yar

After several months of fighting, Russian forces have occupied the entire Kanal microdistrict on the eastern outskirts of Chasiv Yar, according to both the Russian Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian military. However, there hasn’t been any visual confirmation showing that Russian troops have full control over the microdistrict. This small area, which contains high-rise apartment buildings and an industrial zone, is separated from the city center by the Siverskyi Donets–Donbas Canal.

The Russian army has already managed to establish two small bridgeheads on the western bank of the canal. However, directly storming the city center is likely impossible. As the battle for the Kanal microdistrict shows, urban combat can drag on for months. Most likely, Russian forces will now try to push the AFU across the canal south of Chasiv Yar, near Klishchiivka, and attempt to synchronize this offensive with the group advancing on the northern outskirts of Toretsk.

The Avdiivka front

To the west of Avdiivka, Russian forces have made further advances, entering the village of Karlivka on the banks of the Karlivka Reservoir and capturing Novooleksandrivka. They are now only six kilometers (less than four miles) and one fortified village away from the Pokrovsk-Kostiantynivka road — the main supply line for the AFU grouping in Chasiv Yar.

The Russian army likely plans to push Ukrainian troops completely across the Karlivka Reservoir and the Vovcha River and then launch an offensive through Ocheretyne to the north, towards the Pokrovsk-Kostiantynivka road. The advance on Niu-York, east of this area, should support this effort.

The AFU has managed to slow down the Russian offensive northwest of Avdiivka compared to its pace in the spring. However, the Ukrainian army doesn’t have enough troops here to completely stop it. An attack on Toretsk could worsen the situation.

The Kharkiv front

The Ukrainian army has managed to seize the initiative from the Russian grouping advancing on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv (near the satellite town of Lyptsi) and the city of Vovchansk. However, they haven’t yet managed to capitalize on this momentum.

The Ukrainian counterattack north of Lyptsi, near the village of Hlyboke, has stalled, with the AFU losing part of Hlyboke, which they’d just liberated at the end of June. Any attempts to push Russian forces back from these two villages will have to be postponed. However, the Russian command isn’t currently planning a new offensive on Lyptsi.

In Vovchansk, the AFU has gathered enough troops on the northern bank of the Vovcha River (which roughly bisects the city) to launch an attack on Russian positions. Heavy fighting is ongoing in the city center, with varying degrees of success on both sides. (Both Russian and Ukrainian units on both sides are experiencing supply shortages, with a significant portion of supplies being delivered by drones.) Nevertheless, the AFU has made successful counterattacks to the west and east of the city center, capturing several blocks in the east and part of the village of Starytsya in the west.

The Kreminna Forests and Terny

The Ukrainian army has launched a localized offensive on the far southern flank of the Kupyansk front. Judging by open-source videos, Russian troops have withdrawn from the salient near the village of Terny, from which they launched unsuccessful attacks in the winter and spring.

Additionally, Ukrainian forces have captured part of the Kreminna Forests National Nature Park to the west of the city of Kreminna. There were heavy battles here throughout 2023, with Russian forces attempting to push the AFU out of the forest until the Russian command redeployed combat-ready units to the Avdiivka area. While the AFU offensive itself is unlikely to have significant operational impact, as they clearly lack the strength to fully clear the large forest, it may force the Russian command to redirect reserves to this area, potentially weakening the Russian army on other fronts.

The red dots show recent events, and the gray dots show earlier events. Black indicates the approximate contact line as of the last update; the red and blue areas mark places occupied (since early September) by Russian and Ukrainian forces. Clicking on them will provide additional information. Air strikes are marked with a special icon, ground operations with dots. Click on the point on the map to pull up source links.
Meduza is careful in working with data, but mistakes are still possible, and perhaps even inevitable. If you spot one, please let us know by sending an email to [email protected]. Thank you!
Read our previous combat map

Juggling priorities Ukraine is counterattacking near Kharkiv, but insufficient manpower leaves other regions vulnerable to Russia’s ongoing offensive

Read our previous combat map

Juggling priorities Ukraine is counterattacking near Kharkiv, but insufficient manpower leaves other regions vulnerable to Russia’s ongoing offensive

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